"Shooting From Angles Not Covered By Any Other Blogs"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Caught in His Own Duck Trap, Will Burke Lowe-r 'The Finger'?

They say “it’s lonely at the top”. This certainly seems to be the case for general manager Brian Burke of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, who appears to have gotten tangled up in a Duck trap of his own making.

Not knowing the status of returning/retiring stars Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer, combined with tight salary cap numbers, the Ducks inadvertently left duckling Dustin Penner ripe for poachers. Enter Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe, whose final bazooka shot in this year’s RFA hunting season is a bulls-eye aimed right at the beak of Penner.

Burke has publicly ripped into Lowe for what he calls “an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job." Burke’s beef seems to be more about the amount of the Oilers offer sheet to Penner (reportedly 5 years for $21.25 million), as opposed to the act of trying to snatch the young Duck from his Anaheim nest.

Burke complained that “this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams.”

It’s amazing to me how times have changed. In the past it was always the big market teams—led by the fiscally irresponsible Rangers—who were accused by small market teams, like Edmonton, of inflating player salaries by overpaying for talent.

Now, the new salary cap system creates the opportunity for a small market team—whose obscure northern location is as inviting to free agents as a bad case of Pneumonic Plague—to turn the system upside-down (or at least sideways) and grossly overpay for a player. In Penner’s case, we are taking about a player who has scored all of 45 points in his fledgling 82 game regular season career.

Regardless of which frozen pond (Edmonton’s or Anaheim’s) Penner ends up skating on for the next 5 years, there are two certainties: 1) he will be earning an average of over $4 million per year, and 2) his contract, inked in unchartered waters, will have a rippling effect on future RFA contract negotiations between NHL teams and their young, potential stars.

Burke isn’t tipping his hand on which way is leaning on this issue—other than to indicate that he must confer with ownership before making the call. No matter the outcome, this should certainly be an amusing week for all of us as the Thursday deadline approaches for the Ducks final decision.

Something tells me that, regardless of when Burke and the Ducks make up their minds, it’s going to go down to the final minutes. This is partially because the ordeal has gotten so personal between Burke and Lowe, that Burke has even ripped Lowe for the timing of his attempted heist. Burke said, "I thought Kevin would have called me and told me it was coming. I thought that was gutless…I think it's a classless move timing-wise.”

Brian, maybe it’s just me, but I never knew that there was a polite way to forcefully clip a Duck’s feathers. But it’s another thought that I have that really has me eagerly anticipating the Thursday Duck-Oiler shootout.

Given the bad blood that has developed between Burke and Lowe, I keeping wondering whether the “Dustin Duel” will end up like the infamous “Sakic Skirmish” of 1997, when the Rangers unsuccessfully attempted to pillage the cash-strapped Avalanche with a front-loaded RFA offer to Joe Sakic.

That week-long event climaxed with Colorado general manager Pierre LaCroix sending a last minute fax to the Rangers (just to stick it to the Rangers ownership), indicating that they had matched the offer sheet to Sakic.

As an appreciative gesture to the Rangers and Dave Checketts (MSG President) for further f__king up their financial affairs, Colorado owner Charlie Lyons sent to Checketts a copy of the legendary 1976 Nelson Rockefeller picture. In this famous photo, Rockefeller is seen “Giving the Finger” to a group of political hecklers in New York.

As D-Day approaches, we can only wonder whether Burke will handle his hardship with humility and class, or whether he will strike Kevin with a Lowe blow. Let’s all keep “The Fingers” crossed.


The Dark Ranger said...

I think Kevin Lowe has it coming to him. He has every right per the accepted ethical rules in the league to justify his behavior this season, but...

This guy is so low on Karmic Mantra that next year Jim Balsillie will finally get permission to buy a hockey franchise, and finally....

Call them the Hamilton Oilers. Fate speaks.

The Dark Ranger

Anonymous said...

I like the way you linked a seemingly unrelated incident into Rangerland history.

Amusing post!


Anonymous said...

Let Penner go already. If Lowe want's to overpay an unproven player, then let him. Those draft picks will probably turn into some really sweet players in a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

I guess Duck hunting season is over and Lowe got the final shot in without Burke lifting a finger.

Unknown said...

You've got the Sakic story wrong. Pierre LaCroix did wait till the last moment before faxing in the match to the NHL, but LaCroix did not send Smith a picture of Nelson Rockefeller holding up the middle finger. Knowing that the offer sheet was orchestrated by ownership above Smith, that photo was sent to David Checketts, President of MSG from Charlie Lyons, owner of the Colorado Avalanche. Pierre LaCroix and Neil Smith remain good friends to this day.
A Former NYR Employee.

The Hockey Humorist said...


Thanks for the correct, inside info.

I just amended the story to reflect the actual events.


viagra online said...

Caught in the trap of self Duck, I have always said, the entrrenadores should be more direct with his players or you will never learn.

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